United States vs. Microsoft

United States vs. Microsoft - Monopoly for IE by Microsoft. Image courtesy of learnersonline.com

October 20, 1997

US accuses Microsoft of violating pact forcing IE browser on computers.

US vs Microsoft was a set of civil actions filed against Microsoft Corporation pursuant to the Sherman Act 1890 Section 1 and 2. The plaintiffs alleged that Microsoft abused monopoly power on Intel-based personal computers in its handling of operating system sales and web browser sales. The issue central to the case was whether Microsoft was allowed to bundle its flagship Internet Explorer (IE) web browser software with its Microsoft Windows operating system. Bundling them together is alleged to have been responsible for Microsoft’s victory in the browser wars as every Windows user had a copy of Internet Explorer.

It was further alleged that this restricted the market for competing web browsers (such as Netscape Navigator or Opera) that were slow to download over a modem or had to be purchased at a store. Underlying these disputes were questions over whether Microsoft altered or manipulated its application programming interfaces to favor Internet Explorer over third party web browsers, Microsoft’s conduct in forming restrictive licensing agreements with original equipment manufacturer, and Microsoft’s intent in its course of conduct.

Microsoft stated that the merging of Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer was the result of innovation and competition, that the two were now the same product and were inextricably linked together and that consumers were now getting all the benefits of IE for free. Those who opposed Microsoft’s position countered that the browser was still a distinct and separate product which did not need to be tied to the operating system, since a separate version of Internet Explorer was available for Mac OS. They also asserted that IE was not really free because its development and marketing costs may have kept the price of Windows higher than it might otherwise have been. The case was tried before Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Judge Jackson issued his findings of fact on November 5, 1999, which stated that Microsoft’s dominance of the x86 based personal computer operating systems market constituted a monopoly, and that Microsoft had taken actions to crush threats to that monopoly, including Apple, Java, Netscape, Lotus Notes, Real Networks, Linux, and others. Then on April 3, 2000, he issued a two-part ruling: his conclusions of law were that Microsoft had committed monopolization, attempted monopolization, and tying in violation of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, and his remedy was that Microsoft must be broken into two separate units, one to produce the operating system, and one to produce other software components.

Patent for First Movie a Hit

Edison's Optical Phonograph, Creator of the First Movie. Photo courtesy of technicacommunications.com.

October 17, 1888

Thomas Edison files a patent for the Optical Phonograph, the first movie, with images only 1/32 inches wide. Edison’s claim is that it will ‘do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear.’

We should all go out this evening for dinner and a movie to commemorate!

Roll Film Brings Photography to Mainstream

George Eastman, Inventor of Roll Film and Founder of Kodak. Image courtesy of socialpsychol.wordpress.com.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 14, 1884

George Eastman receives a patent for the first roll film, helping to bring photography to the mainstream and was the basis for the invention of motion picture film in 1888.

Roll film is spool-wound photographic film protected from white light exposure by a paper backing, as opposed to film which is protected from exposure and wound forward in a cartridge. The opaque backing paper allows roll film to be loaded in daylight.

The use of roll film in snapshot cameras was largely superseded by 135 and 126 cartridges, and is now virtually extinct thanks to digital cameras.

Meridian Crisis Resolved with Greenwich

The Prime Meridian, looking directly North. Photo courtesy of cavinguk.org

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 13, 1884

Geographers and astronomers adopt Greenwich as the Prime Meridian, the international standard for zero degrees longitude.

Prior to the adoption of a standard Prime Meridian, navigation at sea — and the charting of stars in the heavens — often remained a matter of local, national or even religious preference. Maps might be based on longitude east or west of Jerusalem, Saint Petersburg, Rome, Pisa, Copenhagen, Oslo, Paris, Greenwich (just east of central London), El Hierro (in the Canary Islands), Philadelphia (former U.S. capital) and Washington, D.C. These divergent reference meridians — representing a mixture of astronomical, theological and maritime power — ranged over 112 degrees of longitude.

In the interests of global amity — and commerce — U.S. President Chester Alan Arthur convened the International Meridian Conference in Washington in 1884. Delegates from 25 countries attended.

The conference set out to select a Prime Meridian for the world. The United States, rising power of the Western Hemisphere, had already adopted the Greenwich Meridian for navigation, and 72 percent of the world’s commerce used nautical charts based on Greenwich.

Britain had first solved the problem of longitude, Britain had the world’s largest navy, and the sun indeed did not set on the far-flung British Empire. Britannia ruled the waves, so there was no need for Britain to waive its rules.

Thus, the conference established that the meridian passing through the Royal Observatory at Greenwich would be the world’s Prime Meridian, and all longitude would be calculated both east and west from it up to 180 degrees. The conference also established Greenwich Mean Time as a standard for astronomy and setting time zones.

The vote to select Greenwich passed 22 to 1. San Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) voted against. France and Brazil, diplomatically, abstained.

Artificial Respiration Becomes Reality and a Life Saver

The Iron Lung: the first successful artificial respirator. Photo courtesy of vaccineinformation.org.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 12, 1928

The iron lung artificial respirator is successfully used on a young polio sufferer at Children’s Hospital, Boston.

The iron lung, originally invented by Philip Drinker, an industrial hygienist, encases a person’s entire body, except for the head, and uses regulated air pressure to help a patient breathe when they are no longer able to on their own.

Most people placed in iron lungs during the 30s and 40s were polio sufferers, and most were young. Today the iron lung is rarely used as polio is no longer a major – or minor – threat and there are even more sophisticated breathing devices available.

The First ‘Killer App’ for PCs Is Released

VisiCalc Creators, Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston, 1979. Image courtesy of library.thinkquest.org.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 11, 1979

Visicalc is released by Dan Bricklin. The spreadsheet application is called the first killer app for personal computers because it turned the PC from a hobby into a business tool.

Conceived by Dan Bricklin, refined by Bob Frankston, developed by their company Software Arts, and distributed by Personal Software in 1979 (later named VisiCorp) for the Apple II computer, it propelled the Apple from being a hobbyist’s toy to a useful tool for business.

According to Bricklin, he was watching a professor at Harvard Business School create a financial model on a blackboard. When the professor found an error or wanted to change a parameter, he had to erase and rewrite a number of sequential entries in the table. Bricklin realized that he could replicate the process on a computer using an “electronic spreadsheet” to view results of underlying formulae.

Pac-Man Munches Its Way Into Tech History

Pac-Man Changes the World of Video-gaming. Image courtesy of free-extras.com

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 10, 1979
Pac-Man makes its debut in Japan.

Pac-Man wasn’t the first videogame – arcade games, including video versions, had existed for years – but it is considered one of the classics and an icon of 1980s popular culture.

Upon its release, Pac-Man and eventually its spin-offs, became a social phenomenon that sold a bevy of merchandise and also inspired, among other things, an animated television series and a top-ten hit single.

When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were Space Invaders and Asteroids. Pac-Man is often credited with being a landmark in video game history, and is among the most famous arcade games of all time. It is also the highest-grossing video game of all time, having generated more than $2.5 billion – in quarters – by the 1990s.

Nearly thirty years after its introduction, Pac-Man is still being sold and remains one of the most popular videogames of all time.

Source: Wikepedia

X-15 Rocket Plane Sets World Speed Record


The X-15 Rocked Plane in Flight

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

October 3, 1967

On October 3, 1967, U.S. Air Force pilot Pete Knight flew the S-15 Rocket Plane to a world speed record for a winged aircraft of Mach 6.7, which is 4,520 mph.  This was the fastest recorded flight of the X-15 Rocket Plane and is over 1.3 miles per second.  The flight reached 19.3 miles (31.1 km).

The experimental Air Force program flew 199 missions from an unpowered test flight by Scott Crossfield on 8 June 1959 to October 24th 1968. In all 12 different pilots flew the plane including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.  The highest flight recorded was by Joe Walker on August 1963, reaching an altitude of 67 miles. There are two definitions of how high a person must go to be referred to as an astronaut. The USAF decided to award astronaut wings to anyone who achieved an altitude of 50 miles (80 km) (80.5 km) or more. However, the FAIset the limit of space at 100 kilometers (62.1 mi). Thirteen X-15 flights went higher than 50 miles (80 km) and two of these reached over 100 kilometers.

Ether as Anesthesia: Thank You, William Morton

Dentist William Morton Uses Ether as Anesthetic. Image courtesy of examiner.com.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 30, 1846

Dentist, William Morton, was the first to publicly use ether to anesthetize a patient in Boston. His bold step eventually lead to the widespread use of ether for surgical anesthesia.

Morton’s first successful public demonstration of ether as an inhalation anesthetic was such an historic and widely publicized event that many consider him to be the “inventor and revealer” of anesthesia. However, Morton’s work was preceded by that of Georgia surgeon, Crawford Williamson Long, who used ether as an anesthetic four years earlier.

Although Long demonstrated its use to physicians in Georgia on numerous occasions, he did not publish his findings until 1849, in The Southern Medical and Surgical Journal. These pioneering uses of ether were key factors in the medical and scientific pursuit now referred to as anesthesiology, and allowed the development of modern surgery.

Self-Service Gas Stations: Soon a Thing of the Past?

Self-service Gas Pump Instructions. Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 27, 1977

In a new study on US gas station trends, more and more stations have self-service pumps. Many believe that the new self service gas stations will never replace the traditional, full-service station.

The report showed that since the gas crisis in 1973-1974, gone are the days when one’s windscreen was washed and oil checked while the attendant filled one’s gas tank. Also, the repair bays are disappearing, and, the most controversial of the changes is appearing at more and more stations – the self service pump. Most believe, however, that self-service pumps will be short-lived.

Inhabitants Enter Biosphere 2

Inside Biosphere 2, 16 years later. Photo courtesy of www.divinecaroline.com.

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 26. 1991

A group of scientists, four men and four women, began a two-year stay inside “Biosphere 2”, a sealed structure in Oracle, AZ.

Biosphere 2 is a 3.14-acre structure originally built to be an artificial, materially-closed ecological system in Oracle, Arizona by Space Biosphere Ventures, a joint venture whose principal officers were John P. Allen, inventor and Executive Director, and Margret Augustine, CEO.

Constructed between 1987 and 1991, Biosphere 2 was used to explore the complex web of interactions within life systems in a structure that included five areas based on natural biomes and an agricultural area and human living/working space to study the interactions between humans, farming and technology with the rest of nature. It also explored the possible use of closed biospheres in space colonization, and allowed the study and manipulation of a biosphere without harming Earth’s.

Its name comes from Earth’s biosphere, Biosphere 1. Earth’s life system is the only biosphere currently known. Funding for the project came primarily from the joint venture’s financial partner, Ed Bass’ Decisions Investment, and cost $200 million from 1985 to 2007, including land, support research greenhouses, test module and staff facilities.

Biosphere’s four residents had planned to have no contact with the outside world; to grow their own food and live peacefully together as future pioneers in a harsh and alien world. Unfortunately, the outside world had to intervene a few times; to get rid of an ant invasion, to pump in oxygen, to tend to a health emergencies, to bring in forgotten necessities like makeup. The scientific team managed to last out the term, but they were half-crazy and half-starved when U.S. marshals led them out two years later.

Mars Climate Orbiter Crashes on Mars


The Mars Climate Orbiter

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 23. 1999

After a more than 9 months, the Mars Climate Orbiter arrived at Mars on schedule, on September 23, 1999, in order to be inserted into Mars orbit. After Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI), the spacecraft was intended to become the first interplanetary weather satellite. Mars Climate Orbiter, the first of the two Mars Surveyor 1998 spacecraft (the other being the Mars Polar Lander), was successfully launched on December 11, 1998. After the spacecraft passed behind Mars it never emerged or made radio contact. NASA believe Mars Climate Orbiter was at too low an altitude and was destroyed by atmospheric stresses and friction at this low altitude.

The Mars Curse

38 missions to Mars have been attempted, of those 19 have failed.  Twelve of the missions included attempts to land on the surface, but only seven transmitted data after landing.  Because of this high failure rate of missions to explore Mars it has become known as the Mars curse.  Most of the failure were on early attempts by the Soviet and later Russian Mars probe programthat suffered several technical difficulties. Modern missions have an improved success rate; however, the challenge, complexity and length of the missions make it inevitable that failures will occur.

Birth of a Whole New – and High Level – Language

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 20, 1954

FORTRAN: one of the oldest programming languages and first high-level language and compiler. Image courtesy of bobbeaty.com.

The first FORTRAN program is run at IBM.

Fortran is a general-purpose, procedural, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numeric computation and scientific computing. Originally developed by IBM for scientific and engineering applications, Fortran came to dominate this area of programming early on, and has been in continual use for over half a century in computationally intensive areas such as numerical weather prediction, finite element analysis, computational fluid dynamics, computational physics and computational chemistry. It is one of the most popular languages in the area of high-performance computing and is the language used for programs that benchmark and rank the world’s fastest supercomputers.

Jobs Back on the Job!

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 16. 1997

Co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, Returns as Apple's CEO in 1997

Co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, returns as CEO.

In the late 1970s, Jobs, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Mike Markkula, and others, designed, developed, and marketed one of the first commercially successful lines of personal computers, the Apple II series. In the early 1980s, Jobs was among the first to see the commercial potential of Xerox PARC’s mouse-driven graphical user interface, which led to the creation of the Macintosh.

After losing a power struggle with the board of directors in 1985, Jobs resigned from Apple and founded NeXT, a computer platform development company specializing in the higher-education and business markets. Apple’s subsequent 1996 buyout of NeXT brought Jobs back to the company he co-founded.  He served as its CEO from 1997 until August 24, 2011.


Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 12, 1874

The First Practical Typewriter. Photo from explorepahistory.com.

The first practical typewriter was sold to customers.

A typewriter, by definition, is a small machine, either electric or manual, with type keys that produced characters one at a time on a piece of paper inserted around a roller. Typewriters have been largely replaced by personal computers and home printers.

Christopher Sholes, an American mechanical engineer, invented the first practical modern typewriter in 1866, with the financial and technical support of his business partners Samuel Soule and Carlos Glidden. Five years, dozens of experiments, and two patents later, Sholes and his associates produced an improved model similar to today’s typewriters.

The Sholes typewriter had a type-bar system and the universal keyboard was the machine’s novelty, however, the keys jammed easily. To solve the jamming problem, another business associate, James Densmore, suggested splitting up keys for letters commonly used together to slow down typing. This became today’s standard “QWERTY” keyboard.

Christopher Sholes lacked the patience required to market a new product and decided to sell the rights to the typewriter to James Densmore. He, in turn, convinced Philo Remington (the rifle manufacturer) to market the device. The first “Sholes & Glidden Typewriter” was offered for sale in 1874 but was not an instant success. A few years later, improvements made by Remington engineers gave the typewriter machine its market appeal and sales skyrocketed.

Billion Dollar Deal Made Between AOL, CompuServe and WorldCom

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 8, 1997

AOL's Acquisition of CompuServe Helps Expand AOL's Content and Subscriber Base. Photo from news.cnet.com

America Online acquired CompuServe, the oldest U.S. on-line computer service.

CompuServe was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates. Since the purchase of CompuServe’s Information Services Division by AOL, the CompuServe Information Service has operated as an online service provider and an Internet service provider.

The billion-dollar deal also saw AOL involved with WorldCom, a telephone company with hundreds of miles of high-capacity line. Under the deal, WorldCom kept CompuServe’s global data network and agreed to provide network services to AOL. The deal gave AOL much-needed cash to develop new online content and expand its base of 9 million subscribers.

First Baby Placed in Incubator

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 7, 1888

First Baby Incubator. Courtesy of neonatology.org

Edith Eleanor McLean, weighing 2 pounds, 7 ounces, was the first baby to be placed in an incubator – at State Emigrant Hospital on Ward’s Island, New York.

Originally called a “hatching cradle,” the device was 3-ft square, 4-ft high. It was designed to increase the survival rate for premature infants by the maternity ward doctors, Drs. Allan M. Thomas and William C. Deming.

A neonatal incubator is a device consisting of a rigid box-like enclosure in which an infant may be kept in a controlled environment for medical care. The device may include an AC-powered heater, a fan to circulate the warmed air, a container for water to add humidity, a control valve through which oxygen may be added, and access ports for nursing care. It may also contain a servocontrol to help regulate incubator air temperature.

In infants born before 31 weeks gestation, evaporative water loss is the single most important channel of heat loss. This is due to inadequate keratinisation of the skin, which allows a high permeability of water to the skin. The permeability drops rapidly in the first 7 to 10 days after birth unless the skin becomes traumatized or secondarily infected. In that 7 to 10 day period, the absolute humidity must be monitored so that evaporative heat loss is kept to a minimum as well as water loss through the skin.

There have been significant advances in thermoregulation since the 1960s. These advances have reduced mortality in small babies by 25%.

First Circumnavigation of the Globe

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 6, 1522

Magellan's Expedition Circumnavigates the Globe. Photo courtesy of thenagain.info

One of Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships–the Vittoria–arrives at SanlÚcar de Barrameda in Spain, thus completing the first circumnavigation of the world.

The Vittoria was commanded by Basque navigator Juan SebastiÁn de Elcano, who took charge of the vessel after the murder of Magellan in the Philippines in April 1521. During a long, hard journey home, the people on the ship suffered from starvation, scurvy, and harassment by Portuguese ships. Only Elcano, 17 other Europeans, and four Indians survived to reach Spain in September 1522.

On September 20, 1519, Magellan set sail from Spain in an effort to find a western sea route to the rich Spice Islands of Indonesia. In command of five ships and 270 men, Magellan sailed to West Africa and then to Brazil, where he searched the South American coast for a strait that would take him to the Pacific. He searched the RÍo de la Plata, a large estuary south of Brazil, for a way through; failing, he continued south along the coast of Patagonia. At the end of March 1520, the expedition set up winter quarters at Port St. Julian.

On October 21, he finally discovered the strait he had been seeking. The Strait of Magellan, as it became known, is located near the tip of South America, separating Tierra del Fuego and the continental mainland. Only three ships entered the passage; one had been wrecked and another deserted. It took 38 days to navigate the treacherous strait, and when ocean was sighted at the other end Magellan wept with joy. He was the first European explorer to reach the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. His fleet accomplished the westward crossing of the ocean in 99 days, crossing waters so strangely calm that the ocean was named “Pacific,” from the Latin word pacificus, meaning “tranquil.” By the end, the men were out of food and chewed the leather parts of their gear to keep themselves alive. On March 6, 1521, the expedition landed at the island of Guam.

Ten days later, they dropped anchor at the Philippine island of Cebu. Magellan met with the chief of Cebú, who persuaded the Europeans to assist him in conquering a rival tribe on the neighboring island of Mactan. In subsequent fighting on April 27, Magellan was hit by a poisoned arrow and left to die by his retreating comrades.

Cash Available 24/7

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

September 2, 1969

The first U.S. ATM began dispensing cash on September 2, 1969. Photo from times.com.

America’s first automatic teller machine (ATM) makes its public debut, dispensing cash to customers at Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York – just six weeks after landing men on the moon.

ATMs went on to revolutionize the banking industry, eliminating the need to visit a bank to conduct basic financial transactions. By the 1980s, these money machines had become widely popular and handled many of the functions previously performed by human tellers, such as check deposits and money transfers between accounts. Today, ATMs are as indispensable to most people as cell phones and e-mail.

Several inventors worked on early versions of a cash-dispensing machine, but Don Wetzel, an executive at Docutel, a Dallas company that developed automated baggage-handling equipment, is generally credited as coming up with the idea for the modern ATM. Wetzel reportedly conceived of the concept while waiting on line at a bank.

57 Million Spam E-mails In One Day

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 22, 2007

Storm Botnet Has Sent More Than 1.2 Billion Spam Emails

The Storm botnet sends out a record 57 million e-mails in one day.

The Storm botnet, or Storm worm botnet, is a remotely controlled network of “zombie” computers (or ‘botnet’) that has been linked by the Storm Worm, a Trojan horse spread through e-mail spam.

The Storm botnet was first identified around January 2007, with the Storm worm at one point accounting for 8% of all malware on Microsoft Windows computers.

First detected on the Internet in January 2007, the Storm botnet and worm are so-called because of the storm-related subject lines its infectious e-mail employed initially, such as “230 dead as storm batters Europe.” Later provocative subjects included, “Chinese missile shot down USA aircraft,” and “U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has kicked German Chancellor Angela Merkel.”

The botnet, or zombie network, comprises computers running Microsoft Windows as their operating system.  Once infected, a computer becomes known as a bot. This bot then performs automated tasks—anything from gathering data on the user, to attacking web sites, to forwarding infected e-mail—without its owner’s knowledge or permission. Estimates indicate that 5,000 to 6,000 computers are dedicated to propagating the spread of the worm through the use of e-mails with infected attachments.

Efforts to infect computers usually revolve around convincing people to download e-mail attachments which contain the virus through subtle manipulation. In one instance, the botnet’s controllers took advantage of the National Football League’s opening weekend, sending out mail offering “football tracking programs” which did nothing more than infect a user’s computer.  According to Matt Sergeant, chief anti-spam technologist at MessageLabs, “In terms of power, [the botnet] utterly blows the supercomputers away. If you add up all 500 of the top supercomputers, it blows them all away with just 2 million of its machines. It’s very frightening that criminals have access to that much computing power, but there’s not much we can do about it.”  It is estimated that only 10%-20% of the total capacity and power of the Storm botnet is currently being used.

Hewlett Packard: From Backyard Shed to Silicone Valley

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 18, 1947

David Packard, left, and William Hewlett 'Founded' Silicone Valley. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.

Hewlett-Packard incorporates; 8 years after its founding.

Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard met as engineering students at Stanford in the early ’30s and cemented their lifelong friendship during a post-graduation camping trip. Packard went off to take a job with General Electric, while Hewlett went on to postgraduate studies. They were reunited by Stanford profesor, Fred Terman, who encouraged the two to “make a run for it.”

With $500 in cash [about $8,000 in today’s money] borrowed from Terman, plus a used Sears, Roebuck drill press, Hewlett-Packard swung into action in the small shed behind Packard’s modest house Palo Alto, California. The company’s first product, released in 1938, was an audio oscillator used for testing sound equipment. When the Walt Disney Co. bought eight of them to develop the technically advanced movie Fantasia, HP was off and running.

Hewlett-Packard’s rise as a tech powerhouse is a story that’s been told again and again. The electronics products were first-rate and eagerly embraced. Want became need with the coming of World War II, and HP quickly grew, moving out of Packard’s garage in 1940.

But the company was innovative in another, perhaps less-known way.  HP demonstrated a new type of management technique, one that placed a premium on the workers and their happiness. This open-management style was the prototype for how many technology companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, would operate decades later.

The tiny garage in Palo Alto, California, where the company originated, is now regarded as the birthplace of Silicon Valley.

Fantasmagorie: First Fully Animated Film

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 16, 1908

One of the 700 Frames from Fantasmagorie, the first fully animated film. Courtesy of filmabinitio.blogspot.com.

Fantasmagorie, a French animated film by Émile Cohl, consists of a stick figure moving about and encountering all manner of morphing objects. This makes Fantasmagorie the first animation on film created using what came to be known as traditional (hand-drawn) animation.

The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look. It was made up of 700 drawings, each of which was double-exposed (animated “on twos”), leading to a running time of almost two minutes.

First Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Message

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 16, 1858

The First Trans-Atlantic Telegraph Was Sent from Queen Victoria to President Buchanan

The first official telegraph message was sent across the Atlantic Ocean from London to the US.

The transatlantic telegraph cable,  the first cable used for telegraph communications, laid across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. It crossed from the Telegraph Field, Foilhommerum Bay, Valentia Island, in western Ireland to Heart’s Content in eastern Newfoundland. The transatlantic cable connected North America and Europe, and expedited communication between the two. Whereas it would normally take at least ten days to deliver a message by ship, it now took a matter of minutes by telegraph.

Queen Victoria sent the first official telegraph message to President Buchanan in Washington, DC, following 10 days of test messages. The transmission began at 10:50am and was completed at 4:30am the next day, taking nearly 18-hrs to reach Newfoundland. With 99 words, consisting of 509 letters, it averaged about 2-min per letter.

President Buchanan and Queen Victoria were delighted with the speed of communicating via the telegraph.  Imagine what they would think about the speed of today’s text messaging, IMing, and emailing!

Panama Canal Opens

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 15, 1914

The Panama Canal, a 77-kilometre (48 mi) ship canal in Panama that joins the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, opens.

One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the canal had an enormous impact on shipping between the two oceans, replacing the long and treacherous route via either the Strait of Magellan or Cape Horn at the southernmost tip of South America. A ship sailing from New York to San Francisco via the canal travels 9,500 km (5,900 mi), well under half the 22,500 km (14,000 mi) route around Cape Horn.

In total over 815,000 vessels have passed through the canal. It has been named one of the seven modern wonders of the world by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

A Basic PC for $4000?!

Technology that Shapes Our Lives

August 12, 1981

IBM's First PC, the 5150. Photo courtesy of vintage-computer.com

IBM rolled out the first PC, model 5150.

Of course they had other computers, but nothing that targeted the home market as the PC would. Each PC came with Microsofts’ CP/M Operating System. The 5150 contained a 4.7 MHz processor, 16k or RAM and 40 k of ROM, all for $1,565, which would be nearly $4000 today. For $6000, or roughly $14,000 today, one could have their PC customized!